This is my Bankai!

After a long absence, and a lot of games I probably could’ve written reviews for, here I am, back for a review of the game Bleach: The 3rd Phantom for the Nintendo DS. The 3rd Phantom is a Turn-based strategy RPG based on Tite Kubo’s Bleach Universe, and is the 3rd in the Bleach DS line of games.

Gameplay and Story: Gameplay is primarily divided into two segments: Free Time and Combat. Free Time occurs before or after battle, and generally involves your characters interacting with other charcters in the world of Bleach. You’re given a specific amount of AP each chapter, and each free time event costs a specific amount of AP. Events can be anything, sometimes they’re for fun, sometimes they’re side-plots, and others grant your status upgrades, earn you items or increase affinity with certain characters. Later in the game there are Training missions, which you need in order to learn Bankai, and Hot Spring missions for…well, fanservice. Watching how you spend AP is also important, because landing on certain spots on the AP board can grant you nice items, stat increases and AP discounts.

Battles take place on your typical SRPG arena, where you will generally spend your time fighting Hollows.  Each character and enemy has a specific type (Power, Speed, Tech , All or Non-Com), which works as a type of Rock-Paper-Scissors system to determine who has the advantage in basic combat. Certain characters have skills, which are Kido (magic) abilities to attack enemies or heal/support allies, or character specific special attacks, like Getsuga Tenshou and Senbonzakura Kageyoshi. Applicable characters can also use Bankai when their spiritual pressure is maxed, vastly increasing their stats, giving them new attacks or a special character to control. Spiritual Pressure is gained by absorbing Reishi on the field, which is scattered about in paths or in massive groupings.

The story will take you to before the start of the Bleach series, roughly 100 years before the start of the manga/anime (and yes, for those of you far enough along, you’ll quickly realize that this game was made before a certain arc in the series). After a while, you’ll jump ahead into the current Bleach timeline, to the start of the Arrancar arc. A few things will remain the same, but by the mid-point of the game, the story will diverge into it’s own original storyline till the very end.

Fujimaru and Matsuri Kudo - The main protagonists of The 3rd Phantom.

Graphics and Music: Graphics are pretty basic for a 2D DS game. Those of you who have played the first two DS Bleach titles will notice little has changed in this iteration. Still attack animations are pretty nice, but you’ll likely start to grow tired of them by the end of the game. Music on the whole is pretty repetitive, the music on the battlefield never changes, and the background music is a mix of just standard music that doesn’t really stand out. On the bright side, while not voiced during scenes like in the Japanese version, all characters have been fully voices by their English voice actors in battle, and it’s not a bad dubbing job, really.

The field map and battle screens.

Replay: The story has two different characters, and while it won’t make much of a difference story-wise, some may want to play through the game as the other Twin. There are some many free time events that players will be unable to view them all on the first playthrough, so a 2nd will give you a chance to check out events that you missed the first time around. And then there is the post-game Bleach Tower, a 30-level challenge dungeon to test your skills, and beating characters on certain floors is the only way to unlock them for play.

Overall: If you like strategy RPGs and are a fan of Bleach, I recommend picking up this game. If you like SRPGs, but are not a big fan of Bleach and none of the stuff I mentioned made any sense, pass on this, there are games out there that you’ll enjoy more than this.

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~ by Sushikins on December 20, 2009.

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